Kids are turning on to radio

To help us keep up-to-date with what's happening with kids, we've asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids' lives. Since today's kids spend so...
June 1, 1998

To help us keep up-to-date with what’s happening with kids, we’ve asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Since today’s kids spend so much time on-line, Kid Think talked with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of 600 on-line families across the United States.

Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York-based communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Paul Kurnit at 212-337-6442 or e-mail

This month, LiveWire asked kids age eight to 12 what they think about radio, especially radio directed at kids.

What we found:

We discovered that listening to the radio occupies an important place in kids’ lives and most kids have at least one favorite station. The stations preferred most by kids play programming that is almost entirely made up of contemporary pop music. Kids told us they like these stations because they play a mix of the Spice Girls, the Backstreet Boys and Hanson. Their favorite stations also promote contests and have joke-telling DJs.

While kids radio stations are becoming increasingly popular, our panel wasn’t familiar with many kid-targeted stations. The one named most often was Radio Disney. Naomi, age 11, of California, says that Radio Disney is her favorite because ‘they give away cool prizes, you can talk to the DJs, you can call a specific number to win things, they have cool music and they have a Web site.’

When asked about the appeal of a kids radio station, the majority of our panel said it is a very cool concept. In fact, they believe that a kids radio station Ppriate programming and advertising. Beyond the pop music and entertainment that the average radio station offers, kids told us that a kids radio station could deal with pertinent issues, provide important updates on local events and have storytelling and sing-alongs for younger members of the audience.

Michael, age 8, from Arizona, says that ‘a radio station for kids is cool because it would have kids music and commercials especially for kids products. We wouldn’t have to listen to boring grown-up stuff like news and traffic reports.’ And Christopher, age 11, from Pennsylvania, says that he would appreciate a kids radio station because ‘the ads on regular stations are for grown-ups and some of them don’t make any sense to me. I’d like to hear commercials for action figures and movies.’

What kids said:

We asked kids on our panel to tell us what they would do if they were developing their own kids radio station. Most kids suggested entertaining DJs, games and contests, audience participation and lots of pop music, as well as significant time devoted to top 10 countdowns and requests. Overall, the most important feature for most of the kids was for a station to maintain a fresh, young attitude that is fun, but does not talk down to them. Here’s a glimpse of what our panel had to say:

‘Kids would have a number to request songs, and kids would run the show.’ Brandy, Michigan, age 12

‘A DJ that is funny, likes music and likes kids would have to be the announcer. They would play only new music that kids like, and not the older songs that most older people like. I would like the program to not treat us like little kids, but to be fun to listen to. It’s also fun to call in and talk to the announcer while on the radio and to win prizes.’ Becky, Virginia, age 9

‘It would have lots of kid songs from groups like Hanson, [as well as songs from] The Lion King and Aladdin. They would have kids hosting, and there would be stories at bedtime.’ Heather, Oklahoma, age 10

‘I would make it where they play music and that people call in and say what’s on their mind or just talk to the DJs. It would also let people request a song, and we would have a countdown.’ Megan, Louisiana, age 10

‘It would have many commercials for toys and special deals at McDonald’s just for kids who listened to my station, so they can go and have fun. It would have cool music with songs just by kids and kid DJs.’ Joe, Massachusetts, age 11

Next month: Kid Think Inc. will ask kids about their favorite foods and the influence they think they have on their parent’s food purchases. The Kid Think column is a regular KidScreen feature.

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